Nickels and Dimes
Barbara Ehrenreich, best-selling author and a leading thinker and writer on work and labor in America, will give a keynote lecture on April 14 as part of the month-long series of public humanities programs that complement the Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “The Way We Worked.”
From her landmark book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, to her recent New York Times Magazine article “Divisions of Labor,” Ehrenreich has explored the ins and outs—and ups and downs—of working class America. With her characteristic frankness and humor, Ehrenreich will share insights gleaned over four decades of reporting from the frontlines of the American workplace.
The free, public event, sponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, starts at 5:30 p.m. at Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall on the Washington College campus. A book-signing will follow, and copies of Ehrenreich’s books will be available for purchase.
The daughter of a miner, Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana, which she recalls as “a bustling, brawling, blue collar mining town.” A social and political activist, Ehrenreich describes herself as “a myth buster by trade.” She is a widely read and award-winning columnist and the author of 21 books. Ehrenreich’s New York Times bestselling book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, is a memoir of her three-month social experiment trying to survive on minimum wage while working as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart clerk. In her later work, Bait and Switch, Ehrenreich enters another hidden realm of the economy: the shadowy world of the white-collar unemployed. As corporations take pride in “rightsizing,” those who have been “let go” discover that job searching becomes a full-time job in itself.
The talk is part of the month-long, community wide exhibition “The Way We Worked,” based at Chestertown’s Sumner Hall. “The Way We Worked” has been made possible in Maryland by Maryland Humanities and is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide.